If God sends a Great Awakening to the Twin Cities it will make all church buildings obsolete. How do you build sanctuaries to house the harvest of a power-evangelism that brings three thousand people into the kingdom in a single day, and after that adds converts daily, and then in a few weeks adds another two thousand people to the Lord? Answer: you don’t.
What you do is change the way you think about church buildings. You stop thinking about housing the church in church buildings. Instead you start thinking about church buildings as training centers and rallying points for the body of Christ. You might think of them as cultural statements that say to our society that the church is as real and as viable as other institutions with their own buildings. But mainly you will see the buildings as “headquarters” for dynamic movement that does most of its ministry and has most of its meetings in other places.
I have no illusions that our new worship building (the word “sanctuary” is almost too churchy for me) will solve our space problems. It will simply let us wrestle with those problems at bigger numbers. We will have some time to be at one or two services and so recoup some energy, but if the power of God opens the hearts of thousands in this city, no number of Sunday morning services will suffice—not here and not at other evangelical churches either.
Is God giving us a window of opportunity in the next couple years to think and pray together about what such an outpouring would mean for how we meet, how we worship, how we train leaders, how we relate to other churches, how we do evangelism, how we educate young people, how we finance the war effort? Will the 1990’s bring different structures—not to be novel, but to cope with new power and new blessing and new harvest? That is the way my mind is thinking in these days.
I am excited that we will have a “headquarters” to hold 2,000 people in two services. I think this is God’s will for us. And I think having it paid for as soon as possible is also God’s’ will. I aim to pour my resources into SPAN III—Finishing the Task. But what I really am excited about is seeing the building become obsolete—seeing all buildings become obsolete—because of a Great Awakening in the Twin Cities, and around the world.
The first pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church (then called First Swedish Baptist Church) was persecuted and imprisoned for his faith while still in Sweden. His name was John Ring. People don’t get imprisoned for being lovers of the status quo. So I assume he was a deeply committed, radical disciple of Jesus. That is what I want to be.
I hope you belong to this heritage. I hope this is what makes you burn inside with longing. I pray you will invest in it with all your heart.
Sitting loose to forms and space,